Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Origin of Species” as Want to Read:
The Origin of Species
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Origin of Species

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  103,780 ratings  ·  2,558 reviews
Darwin's theory of natural selection issued a profound challenge to orthodox thought and belief: no being or species has been specifically created; all are locked into a pitiless struggle for existence, with extinction looming for those not fitted for the task.

Yet The Origin of Species (1859) is also a humane and inspirational vision of ecological interrelatedness, reveal
Hardcover, 703 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Castle Books (first published November 24th 1859)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Origin of Species, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Eric Bruen You ask why the full title is never given, yet I see it is right here on goodreads, just above your question - Original Title: On The Origin of Specie…moreYou ask why the full title is never given, yet I see it is right here on goodreads, just above your question - Original Title: On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle For Life. In print, the title page of my folio society edition also gives the full title. So your question is irrelevant. The full title is given, in 2 cases that I have right before me. As to why it isn't always given, I'd guess that its length makes it cumbersome, and perhaps the term 'favoured races' could be misinterpreted and taint the purpose of work.(less)
Domhnall Maybe the point of the question is to enquire if Darwin arrived at his theory because he was an atheist. The sequence is the other way around. Darwin …moreMaybe the point of the question is to enquire if Darwin arrived at his theory because he was an atheist. The sequence is the other way around. Darwin travelled from religious belief to disbelief as a consequence of his findings, not a cause of them. We even know that this process caused him great distress, not least because he was an admirer of Paley's classic presentation of the argument for Intelligent Design. Creationists like to present ID as their response to Darwin, but historically Darwin was fully aware of the ID argument and tested it to destruction. ID made no sense in the face of the evidence - even less sense if the designer was assumed to be good rather than evil - and he found a powerful alternative, natural selection, that could fully account for all aspects of evolution, including complexity and fitness of design, without requiring any intelligent designer at all. There is design. There is no designer. Natural selection remains a powerful tool in biology, because we can observe it at work in real time, notably in work to manage the spread of disease by rapidly mutating viruses, and the theory enables us for example to understand how bacteria become resistent to antibiotics. In the face of this evidence, even most active Christians (and people of other faiths) are prepared to accept natural selection as reality and adapt their religious beliefs accordingly. The Catholic Church has formally accepted natural selection. There is no inherent need to identify Darwin's scientific theory with atheism unless you set out your religious beliefs in such rigid terms that the conflict is impossible to resolve, but in that case we are not really describing atheism, just rejection of a specific set of religious beliefs and many religious people disagree on specific beliefs with many other religious people without being atheists. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  103,780 ratings  ·  2,558 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Origin of Species
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind
Shelves: purchase
such a freakin' genius! and the sadest part is, that his "science" literally killed him. if you've read a lot in Darwin (as I have) you come to understand that as a religious man, his studies seriously conflicted with his beliefs. I hate it when I hear someone say that Darwin says, "we come from monkeys." because that is not the case.

his theory is on EVOLUTION, not monkeys. all he wanted people to understand was adaptation and survival of the fittest is really a simple concept, and daily life- p
Ahmad Sharabiani
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life = On Natural selection = Natural selection = The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin

The Origin of Species is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularized the term "Natural selection", contras
Sean Barrs
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mankind
Charles Darwin changed the world when he wrote this book.

I mean if you think about it logically, no other book has had such a powerful impact on the way humanity views the earth; yes, we have countless religious doctrine, but never before had there been a book that so drastically alternated our perceptions of the mechanisms that are behind our existence. I’m not talking about on a spiritual level, a level of ideas that cannot be scientifically proven or unproven, but on an actual physical level.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Creationists
Dear Carol,

Thank you for your mail, and of course I remember meeting you on the flight last month! It was a very interesting discussion and I'm still thinking about it. The semester has now started here at Creationist U and I am working hard, but I found time to read the book you recommended. And I'm glad I did, because it was really a lot better than I thought it would be.

I guess I was expecting Darwin to be like Richard Dawkins, but he was respectful of religious ideas. And it was great that h
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.”
― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species


It is amazing to think that this mild, scientific book published a little less than 155 years ago caused (and is still causing) such a complete storm. I'm surprised at how adapted we have become (or at least the segment of those people on the planet who don't reject Darwin's theory of natural selection as counter to their
Stephen M
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, textbook
Edits for NR because I love him that much.

"This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection. Variations neither useful not injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in the species called polymorphic.

"We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The
Paul E. Morph
Ah, you can't really review a book like this. It's almost complete transcended its role as a seminal scientific tome and become a legitimate historic artefact. You can't review a historic artefact.

This is a fantastic read, even viewed in a completely different way to how it would have been read at the time. It really is amazing how much evolutionary biology Darwin was able to formulate almost a century before Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA. It boggles the mind what Darwin could have been ca
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
Too much to unpack here and not an easy read as it was written 150 years ago.

Despite all of the knocks against reading Origin for enjoyment, I can only express extreme awe and state the obvious - how much of a genius Darwin was.

From his theory of natural selection to glacier theory, to hybrid plants, to fossil theory and a dozen other biological and geological theories that he developed or contributed to, it is remarkable to me how very little Darwin got wrong in a book that was 600 pages long
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Decry or applaud it, there's no question this work has had a profound effect not just on science, but the culture at large. What I wouldn't read this book for is the science, or in an effort to either defend or refute the argument for evolution. The core of Darwin's argument certainly is still what was taught in my Catholic high school biology class (taught by a nun). In a nutshell, the theory is that given there are wide-ranging subtle Variations among organisms, the Malthusian Struggle for Exi ...more
Joey Woolfardis
"If, however, a caterpillar were taken out of a hammock made up, for instance, to the third stage, and were put into one finished up to the sixth stage, so that much of its work was already done for it, far from feeling the benefit of this, it was much embarrassed, and, in order to complete its hammock, seemed forced to start from the third stage."

On the Origin of Species is one of the most important books ever written. Although a lot of people-scientists, naturalists and the like-were comin
I swear I cannot figure what all the fuss is about. This is a science book. It was sometimes a bit tough to read because of the depth into detail. If I were an anthropologist I'm sure I would more appreciate that detail, but as a layman it did at times seem too thick.

If I were lost in an uncivilized world and had only two books, I would want a Webster's dictionary and this Origin of Species. The dictionary to learn word definitions and this book to learn about the flora and fauna around me. For
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On The Origin of Species
Darwin (1809-1882)

Darwin published this book in 1859.
It is his scientific treaty based on the idea of all organism living on the earth to be descendants from one or several original progenitors.

The work is mostly a transcription of the author’s notes throughout his years of study and his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Southern Hemisphere.

It had likely been addressed to the quite sceptic scientific community of his time, to demonstrate his idea and to bring suppo
Clif Hostetler
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
My book group selected this book for discussion probably because of the historic impact it has had on the field of science. However, I found it to be very worthy of respect from a literary viewpoint. Charles Darwin's writing comes across as a methodical thinker and patient explainer to many recalcitrant readers who are determined not to believe a word he says. He had me convinced after only a couple dozen pages, but he kept doing what seemed to me to be piling on observation after observation, e ...more
Oct 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Are you an Evangelical Christian? Or, perhaps you are a student participating in one of nation's modern and progressive science classes, learning about the Origins of Man, but confused by the lack of scientifically observable studies missing from your text books. Fortunately for you, Darwin spent decades of his life documenting the observable changes in various species, hypothesizing about these changes and drawing some interesting conclusions about his life's work. ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read a long time ago but wouldn't have been able to review it anyway. Some have done a great job I see. But not me, I don't have the words for this one and GR doesn't have enough stars. ...more
My science education left a lot to be desired. I was never taught the Theory of Natural Selection in school but only heard it mentioned when some adults scoffed at it. Thankfully, my natural talents steered me away from a career in Biology or Genetics, so this lack of knowledge didn’t affect my career prospects. It just affected my understanding of the world.

I learned years later the basics of the theory but this just piqued my interest about reading the actual book. I always have problems with
Vanessa J.
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
This is not exactly what I would call "fun reading," but it's worth it. At times, it was hard getting through this book, mainly because it's dense and sometimes Darwin tended to drag and not get to the point, but I'm glad I finally read it. However, I think I should have read this at another point of my life - I mean, it was exasperating to read something I had just studied at a biology course I was taking. I still don't regret reading this. If you're considering on whether picking this book or ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Sometimes when I read books with ideas that changed the world, I notice they’re boring. Not because it’s poorly written, archaically worded, or just a boring topic- all untrue- but because the ideas were so influential that the entire book is just one big “duh, yeah, I’m already on board with this, you don’t need to harp on so much, I see what you’re getting at and I agree it makes sense.” (I remember a similar feeling with Singer’s Animal Liberation, for example.)

This is obviously one of thos
Orhan Pelinkovic
Highly recommend for the evolution enthusiast. Charles Darwin is the prophet of the natural selection theory and the Godfather of the struggle for survival.

Darwin's work "On The Origin of Species" gives you a feel at times that you're reading something between a textbook and a book.

This book is a short summary of his Voyage and 15 years of studying and researching organisms prior to writing this book. On the other hand, Darwin gives us an extensive detailed elaboration of his theory of evolutio
T.D. Whittle
I know the world has not been waiting with bated breath for 160 years to hear my opinion of this marvelous book, but I wanted to add my praise anyway. This is such a beautiful read. Darwin makes his argument for descent through modification of all organic life with such patience, eloquence, and clarity that it's awe inspiring, especially when one bears in mind that DNA and its sure-fire evidence of descent had not been discovered yet. It's truly remarkable that Darwin was right about almost ever ...more
Kevin Shepherd
"We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be." ~Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D., University of Chicago

On the Origin of Species is Darwin laying out his theory of natural selection in precise, laborious detail. He knew quite well many of the objections and arguments this supposition would invoke, and he counters every anticip
Katie Bananas
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cora Judd
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a delightful surprise in one of those innumerable books they "ought to" read.
Richard Dawkins' narration of this book is excellent -- I enjoyed it immensely, however, without my semester of physical anthropology, the essential points would have required much more mental attention.

Dawkins inserts clarifying information throughout the book and while Darwin's writing is wonderfully clear, I think more of Dawkins' notes and updates would have been an enhancement.

I was surprised to see how diverse Darwin's background research was and how elegantly he wrote. He anticipated cou
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
What in the world made me want to read this Goliath of a science book? My goodness! I guess if I had to search deep within myself I would have to say I wanted to read anything Darwin, just to see what all the fuss was about, but mostly because of the reviews I read on Goodreads. I thought The Origin of Species would turn me into the science-loving person I always thought lurked inside me.
The main reason I finished it is because any science book that has had this much publicity deserves to be rea
3.0 to 3.5 stars. Not anything like what I would call a "fun" read, but I am really happy that I finally read this book given the tremendous influence it has had on the history on modern scientific thinking. The book itself, while dry, is fairly accessible and is not bogged down with overly complex scientific jargon. I would read a couple of chapters a day in between my "pleasure" reading and it made the book much easier to absorb. Definitely worth reading. ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
It took me awhile to drag myself into reading this one. People have always commented that it was so dull and that it was convoluted and hard to follow and I have always believed in evolution and found modern books very accessible on the subject so I thought why bother? Then again I have a thing for classics, and as my list of books on evolution grew I started to chide myself that I still had not even read from Darwin's own hand. So I bent to the grain and pulled it out. This book was nothing lik ...more
Karnika Kapoor
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not to my surprise, many questions that are thrown at Richard Dawkins by the creationist on debate panels have been answered as it is in this book. If only people read this by themselves!
It was fascinating how the "missing links" was explained by Darwin in a context of geology. Most importantly he was indicating towards Tectonics (that was brought into light many years after darwin's time by Alfred Wegener). Clearly, Darwin was way ahead of his contemporaries.
I knew it took him years to publish
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
im just rating this 4 stars because of its complexity, but not for the contents of the book, witch can rightfully be called a piece of art, this has to be the most complex read i had in years, it's a beutifully explained book on evoulution of especies by natural and human selection, it is incredibly detail and meticulously explained, for maximum enjoyment you must know selections and natural order to fully understand this book as well as geography and different science studies, the variety of es ...more
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With my brand new shiny degree in geology/paleontology, this was the first book I read after commencement. I give it 5 stars for the importance of its text, not for its readability.
Jon Nakapalau
Very hard book for me to get through - not really my background. This book really opened my eyes to how balanced everything is; how each form of life on this planet has had to fight to survive. As man'kind' we have shown little kindness to others, animals or Mother Earth...time for us to evolve in our souls. David Case does a wonderful job. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Selfish Gene
  • Cosmos
  • The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory
  • A Brief History of Time
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
  • The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
  • The Grand Design
  • The God Delusion
  • Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
  • The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
  • The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
  • The Universe in a Nutshell
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
See similar books…
Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selec ...more

Articles featuring this book

"Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete...
64 likes · 8 comments
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” 614 likes
“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” 99 likes
More quotes…